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Tap Into Terpenes: Learn About Limonene

Lemony and invigorating, limonene contributes to an uplifting, stress-busting cannabis experience. Its unmistakable citrus scent is pronounced and prevalent, making this terpene a popular ingredient in household cleaners, candles, and more. In cannabis, it also has antimicrobial properties and can serve as an antioxidant, protecting tissues from damage and supporting wound healing[1]. Here’s what we know about limonene.

Limonene: the basics

  • Flavors: Citrus
  • Aromas: Citrus
  • Effects: Mood elevation, stress alleviation, antioxidant, antimicrobial
  • Often found alongside: Myrcene, beta caryophyllene
  • Also found in: Lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange

Limonene is most closely associated with mood elevation or an uplifting experience that complements both the relaxing tendencies of indica-dominant strains and the energizing qualities of sativa-dominant strains. It is often found alongside myrcene and beta caryophyllene, though it tends to be less dominant than the others – typically, it is found in lower levels in cannabis flower. A wide range of plants produce limonene in nature for its antimicrobial effects, warding off bacteria and fungus. For this reason, limonene is also used in many household cleaning products, contributing to the common lemon scent of many cleaners.

How does limonene make you feel?

Limonene is considered an uplifting terpene capable of creating a sense of euphoria. This is likely because the terpene modulates neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin. One animal study found that lemon oil vapor, which contains significant levels of limonene, served to reduce stress and elevate mood[2]

There is also evidence that limonene could serve as an anti-convulsant. A review of multiple animal studies and human clinical trials led researchers to conclude that limonene “can be [a] powerful anti-convulsant via GABAergic action”[3].

Finally, limonene’s antimicrobial effects make it well-suited for use in topical products. In a review of several animal studies and human clinical trials, researchers concluded that limonene promotes wound healing and restoration of damaged tissue[4]

How does limonene interact with other terpenes?

When examining an individual terpene like limonene, it could be tempting to look at its potential effects in a vacuum. However, limonene’s effects are dependent on the wider compound profile of which it is a part. When limonene is present in high levels with other terpenes that promote stress relief, such as beta caryophyllene or linalool, you’re more likely to experience those effects over others.

Consider which other terpenes are present alongside limonene when choosing a cannabis product to maximize the potential benefits this terpene offers. For example, consumers seeking out limonene-rich products for their mood elevating and stress alleviating properties should also consider products high in linalool, with a balanced THC:CBD ratio. Those that are most interested in maximizing the antioxidant effects of limonene to reduce damage to the heart, for example, might consider looking for a product that is also high in beta caryophyllene. Read more about this phenomenon, called the entourage effect, when learning about the endocannabinoid system.

Which strains are high in limonene?

While limonene is certainly one of the major terpenes, it tends to top out at about 1% volume by weight in cannabis flower. In concentrates and edibles, limonene content often ranges from 5.5% to 6.5% on the high end, while many topicals feature as much as 8.2% volume by weight.

Here’s a closer look at some strains of cannabis flower that contain naturally high levels of limonene.

  • Ice Cream Cake: Ice Cream Cake is an indica-dominant hybrid strain that is dominant in limonene. It also contains significant levels of beta caryophyllene and linalool, making it a great choice for mood elevation and stress alleviation. Many consumers report a relaxed, happy experience that melts away stress. You may also find Ice Cream Cake to be effective for pain relief and sleep promotion.[5]
  • Do-Si-Dos: Yet another calming, euphoric strain, Do-Si-Dos is an indica-dominant hybrid that is primarily used for mood elevation and stress alleviation. It can also be effective for pain relief and for getting a good night’s rest. Similar to Ice Cream Cake, Do-Si-Dos is dominant in limonene, which appears alongside beta caryophyllene and linalool, making this strain a great option for a relaxing experience.[6]
  • Jet Fuel: Jet Fuel is an energizing hybrid strain, bred from OG Kush and Sour Diesel. It is widely considered to offer an energetic, uplifting experience. Jet Fuel contains a significant amount of limonene, along with even higher levels of myrcene and beta caryophyllene. Consumers primarily report stress relieving and mood elevating effects, though you might find Jet Fuel effective for reducing pain and combating fatigue as well.[7]

For uplifted body and mind, choose limonene

Limonene’s mood-boosting effects are complemented by multiple properties that could protect health by warding off harmful microbes and supporting tissue healing. While it’s not always the most dominant terpene in a strain, it’s frequently found in relatively high levels alongside terpenes that also support the stress reduction and an uplifting mood. It is especially prominent in topicals, which is no surprise given its ability to help repair tissue and fight off bacteria that could cause infection. 

As you explore limonene, remember that this terpene’s effects do not occur in a vacuum. They are amplified or modified by other terpenes and phytocannabinoids in a process referred to as the “entourage effect,” a theory that researchers are learning more about each day. Here at Ethos, we’re proud to participate in our growing knowledge base about cannabis. We have partnered with Thomas Jefferson University to drive cannabis research forward, answer these outstanding questions, and apply what we learn to help more patients.  

If you’re in the market for a limonene-dominant cannabis product, you’ll have plenty of products to choose from. Always check your dispensary’s menu or discuss your options with an Ethos associate. We are happy to help you find the best product available to suit your preferences and goals.

Sources:

1. Antioxidant activity of limonene on normal murine lymphocytes: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19796276/

2. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16780969/

3. Anxiolytic and sedative effects of extracts and essential oil from Citrus aurantium L. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12499653/

4. Medicinal properties of terpenes found in Cannabis sativa and Humulus lupulus. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30096653/

5. Ice Cream Cake: https://www.leafly.com/strains/ice-cream-cake

6. Do-Si-Dos: https://www.leafly.com/strains/do-si-dos

7. Jet Fuel: https://www.leafly.com/strains/jet-fuel

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